You can lead a horse to water………I know you can finish the rest, “but you can not make him drink.” I’ve heard that line many times as I hear church leaders who are frustrated with what they deem the lack of activity or service of church members.
There is a line that I would add to that, you may be able to lead a horse to water and you may not be able to make him drink, but you sure can create enough thirst that he makes himself drink. Successful leaders are not those who make horses drink, they are the ones who have taken the time to learn how to make them thirsty. Horses are going to drink sometime, human beings were created to carry out what God created them to do, they will do it, but the environment and the needs must be just right for it to happen.
Wise leaders know that not every horse drinks out of the same trough. Some will eagerly partake of taking on rolls at the church and serving on committees, etc. Some will buck at that trough, but will gladly indulge at the local volunteer entity such as fire department, hospice, etc. When we take the time to know what kind of horse we have and what makes them thirsty, getting them to drink is a breeze. Not everyone who attends your church will respond to the same calling they get week after week, they need a fresh trough. They need to be led to a trough, to a way to serve Jesus that raises the thirst level. For too long we have called people to serve the church, the church was not created to be served, but to equip servants. The primary role of church leaders is not maintaining the church or its programs, it is knowing who the people are and what their passions and gifting’s are, then leading them to the right trough.
It really does not take as much work as we think, but it does take some work. It takes sitting with people and getting to know them. It takes exploring a community and knowing where the troughs are. It takes pulling some people together and listening to their ideas on how to create thirst and setting in motion a plan and a way to make it happen. Jesus did not say to go into all the world and build churches, did He? He said go and make disciples. Disciples are out on their own fields doing the Kingdom Work. I find most of them are eager to do it, once they discover that this is their trough and this is the thirst they have known all along but was not getting filled elsewhere.
We have allowed ourselves to feel success when all the horses drank at our trough, we need to learn to start to feel success when our horses drink, when we have created a thirst for the Kingdom and granted them permission to drink of the trough of God’s creat-ing for them.